Ganta, Nimba County – The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on Wednesday, October 20 begin a three-day capacity building workshop for the purpose of enabling the MOCI to create windows at the county service centers (CSCs) so as to provide business advisory services and business management services for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
This initiative is being held under the Livelihood and Employment Creation project implemented by MOCI with funding from UNDP and partners. The gathering brings together coordinators at the CSCs, petty traders representatives, MOCI county inspectors and staff of the Small Business Administration Unit and is being facilitated by staff of the Liberia Business Registry, Public Procurement Commission, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Business Support Center-Monrovia, a local business development service provider.
Giving an overview of the workshop, the SMEs/Agribusiness Consultant and Livelihood project focal person, Julius Yenwon Saye Keh-Nel explained that one of the aims of the workshop was to educate commerce inspectors and county service center operators to serve as ambassadors ensuring that liberian businesses can benefit from the decentralized services at CSCs, including the services provided the SBA unit of MOCI.
Moreover, he added that even with efforts being applied by the UNDP and the Government of Liberia, businesses still complain of poor services ranging from limited access to markets and business support, lack of business opportunities, harassment at border posts and delay in service delivery.
“Most, if not all the staff working at CSCs complain that they lack the requisite equipment and skills to provide all the services demanded by businesses among others,” stated Keh-Nel.
Giving remarks, the Programme Coordinator at the UNDP, E. Abraham T. Tumbey Jr emphasized the importance of business information and advisory support for local MSMEs noting that with adequate support for business development and information at the CSCs, local MSMEs will have the potential to develop and contribute to the creation of jobs, income and livelihood.
He also highlighted the need to bring the CSCs closer to MSMEs beyond just business registration and paying taxes at the same time underscoring the challenges faced by innovators, new start-ups and emerging business hoping that the workshop will enable the CSCs service providers breach the gap, including connecting local MSMEs with opportunities and supporting them to grow their businesses.
“For example, maybe I’m sitting there in Ganta, I want to start a business; I may not even know how to begin; I may not have the resources of getting a consultant, I want to be able to walk straight to the CSC maybe at the ministry of commerce unit and speak to someone to guide me in the process,” stressed Tumbey.
Also speaking, the Deputy Minister for Small Business Administration (SBA) at MOCI, Debra Nebo explained that as the head of SBA and based on the backdrop that SMEs were faced with a lot of challenges, she consulted with her boss, Min. Mawine G. Diggs and the UNDP so as to find a way to help businesses overcome some of the constraints they face in starting or growing their businesses.
“We saw the need to see how best we can liaise with the county inspectors and CSCs coordinators in making sure that there are MOCI windows at the CSCs where business people can come for support in developing their business and that they are assisted in getting their business registered in a timely and efficient manner” she disclosed.
Representing the Ministry of internal Affairs, Deputy Minister Olayee Collins emphasized that the CSCs were created to support decentralization and enhance the ease of doing business in Liberia. He, however, thanked the Government, UNDP and partners for their support in creating the CSC and expressed hope that the additional capacity building will enhance the capacity of the CSCs to support local business development.